Every year new safety research is collected by organizations such as The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the results are something everyone should read before purchasing a new car. Available research shows that car safety ratings vary from year to year and it is very important to consider this factor in selecting your next car.
One trend that is evident is that the auto makers have been busy increasing small car safety. A few years back, it would've been very difficult to find highly rated small cars but today this trend has definitely changed for the better. This is good news as car owners no longer have to choose between safety and good fuel mileage
It used to be that small cars had minimal safety equipment when compared to larger cars. Today, they come with standard side airbags and many small cars have electronic stability control which can help prevent loss of control in challenging driving situations. Additionally, the strength of small cars' frames have been increased by the automakers which helps keep the occupants safe from being crushed in frontal collisions.
The IIHS does extensive research on car safety and rates the majority of available cars. They use 4 factors in considering the safety of an automobile. A car that has a "good" rating in all 4 areas can be considered a good safety pick.
- Frontal offset - the safety zone between occupants and the frontal impact area.
- Side impact -the amount of energy that can safely be absorbed during a side impact.
- Roof strength - rollover protection.
- Rear crash protection / head restraint - protection when impacted from the rear.
A quick scan of the IIHS 2012 Safety Winners Report shows the top picks in each category of car. As can be seen, there are now many vehicles from the "small car" category which are worthy of a top safety pick. A few years ago most small cars would not earn high safety ratings and it is obvious from the report that small car safety has been high on the automakers' design criteria.
So before you make a decision to purchase your next car, you can feel good about adding small cars to the prospect list for both economy and acceptable safety.